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All Together Now by Jared Bernstein

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37

CHAPTER TWOThe Economist behind the Curtain

SO A PHYSICIST, an engineer, and an economist find themselves shipwrecked on an island, and their only food is a can of tuna. As they have no tools, they have to figure out how to open it. They each work quietly on the problem for a few minutes and then present their findings to each other.

The physicist begins, “If one of us climbs seventeen feet up that tree and throws the can at that rock with an initial trajectory of 57 degrees… ,” and so on. The engineer breaks in and alters the trajectory slightly, arguing that the impact must be enough to open the can without splattering its contents. Finally, they turn to the economist and ask for his contribution. His reply: “Assume a can opener…”

ASSUME ...

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